George Bush On Waterboarding: There’s A Difference Between What Happened In The Past And Today--is There’s New Law.

Bush wears a smile on his face as he tries to justify waterboarding with Chris Wallace on his other home (FOX News) by saying that since they didn't have any laws in place against waterboarding at the time---it was perfectly fine and dandy and legal to apply it. Did he just admit torture was illegal then? What's done is done and all that. It's Sunday after all---let bygones be bygones...It must be nice to have a Justice Department like the one that Cheney co-opted with his buddy David Addington which approved every measure BushCo. wanted. And we can't forget those pesky signing statements Bush loves to use as a fail-safe. Frontline produced a special called " Cheney's Law" (see video) for more context on the OLC.

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BUSH: First of all, whatever we have done, was legal. And whatever decision I will make, will be reviewed by the Justice Department to determine whether or not the legality is is there. And the reason why…there’s a difference between what happened in the past and today is there’s new law. And um, and so to answer your question, whatever we will do will be legal. The American people have got to know that what we did in the past gained information that prevented an attack and for those who criticize what we did in the past, I ask them which attack would they rather have not permitted…stopped? Which attack on America would they have said, you know, well, maybe that wasn’t all that important? That we stopped those attacks. I’ll do what’s necessary to protect America within the law. That’s what you gotta understand. And um, [nods head]

Really?:

"Torture is defined under the federal criminal code as the intentional infliction of severe mental pain or suffering," said John Sifton, an attorney and researcher with the organization Human Rights Watch. "That would include water boarding.--- Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago.

WALLACE: There seem to be some mixed signals from your administration about the interrogation of terror detainees. And I hope you clear it up for us. Your…the CIA, with your approval, confirmed this week that you…the CIA, conducted waterboarding on three al Qaeda prisoners back in 2002 and 2003. And a White House spokesman said that you can still approve that practice, depending on circumstances. On the other hand, CIA Director Hayden said this week that he’s not sure whether or not it’s legal any more to conduct waterboarding. So, to set the record straight, do you think it’s legal and are you prepared to authorize it if you believe it’s necessary to protect the nation?


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BUSH: First of all, whatever we have done, was legal. And whatever decision I will make, will be reviewed by the Justice Department to determine whether or not the legality is is there. And the reason why…there’s a difference between what happened in the past and today is there’s new law. And um, and so to answer your question, whatever we will do will be legal. The American people have got to know that what we did in the past gained information that prevented an attack and for those who criticize what we did in the past, I ask them which attack would they rather have not permitted…stopped? Which attack on America would they have said, you know, well, maybe that wasn’t all that important? That we stopped those attacks. I’ll do what’s necessary to protect America within the law. That’s what you gotta understand. And um, [nods head]

WALLACE: I want to follow up on that. Whether it’s interrogation of terror prisoners, the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all the concern in this country about protecting the rights of the people who want to kill us?

BUSH: That’s an interesting way to put it. Uh, I wouldn’t necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful we don’t overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans. And I understand that. A lot. I do think that some of the programs we put in place on the…like, listening to people calling into America, that some of the claims about what we’re doing have been exaggerated. And I don’t think we ought to extend the same protections to terrorists overseas who want to kill us that we provide our own citizens, when it comes to surveillance matters. This has been a difficult issue for me because I-I-I-I am…listen, I no more want to step..trample on the civil liberties of American people than anybody else does. On the other hand, I understand the nature of these people and I understand the complexities of trying to protect the American people and I think we found a fine balance, I truly do.

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